How to get better at soccer defense: Battle Hard

Defending in soccer

Know your duties in defense, stay goal-side of the attacker, put your body on the line, and be brave. Get better by improving your fitness, strength, speed, and timing.

Follow this guide to know what your duties are as a defender. Each position has different roles to play. As a defender, your first duty is to defend the goal and when you get a chance to support the attack as a wide defender.

Take part in the soccer drill below to test yourself in the toughest situations like the pros. Practice as much as you can and with good quality players to push on your game.

An online soccer course could be just what you’re looking for, see all of the skills you can learn at Coerver, their packages are awesome, they have coaching for every type of player, click here.

soccer field infographic
Soccer field Info-graphic

Qualities of a good soccer defender

A good defender must be strong, aggressive, brave, and a team player. It takes great determination to be a great defender, a willing nature to get to the ball first. You can be tall and small whilst being strong in challenges and able to work as a unit.

Some soccer players are naturally good at defending – if you don’t like to get beat then that could be you. If blocking a shot on goal is like a goal being scored for you then you have the mindset of a great defender.

Along with the mental attributes, the physical aspects play a part. If you want to play center back then it best to be 6 feet or more. For a full-back, you can be tall or short, but most of the are short because they have the legs to accelerate up and down the field.

Some of the best defenders are willing to put their bodies on the line, literally! Players will do anything to score, so you do all you can to stop them, even if that means diving into a crowd of players when stud might catch your face.

1 v 1 Defending Technique

When defending 1 v 1 you must keep between the attacker and your goal. Be close enough to block a shot, but not so close that the attacker can get past you. Be on the lookout for other dangers as the play changes.

You need to angle your body so that you protect the danger zone. This way you can lead the attacker away from where they want to go. Keep an eye on the player and the ball and when the attacker looks up, you have a chance to poke the ball away.

The distance away from the attacker will depend on your speed and their speed. If they are lightning-quick, keep 2 yards away and reduce that to 1 if you have a better pace than them. It is important that you are good at sprinting in bursts. A player may be slower in a sprint race, but they might have the acceleration to get a couple of yards in front of you so that they can take a shot.

Some players go to ground in a slide tackle, but make sure that you have a 99% chance of getting the ball if nobody is covering behind you. The last thing you want to do if leave them one on one with the goalkeeper or with more players than the defenders.

Soccer Defense Drills

Defensive drills are to test the players in situations that occur during a game. Having fewer defenders than attackers really put the pressure on the backline.

Practice 20-yard sprints and they are the most used distances when running. Below is the most common type of soccer drill that you can practice your defending. The numbers can range from 2 v 3, 1 v 2, 3 v 4 and so on.

This drill is used by all professional clubs – it replicates the hardest of situations in a game. If you can defend with one less player than the attackers, then you can do it against an even number of them.

The defenders’ job is to clear the ball and the attackers to score. This drill is fun for both the attackers and defenders.

3 on 2 drill scaled
3 v 2 Soccer Drill

Soccer Defense Positions

The types of positions that you can play as a defender are, center back, full back, wing back, sweeper, and defensive midfield.

Center Back

A key part of the defensive unit, the center back operates in front of the goalkeeper. They are the last inline before the goal. They act a 2 in a 4-4-2 formation or as a 3 in a 5-3-2 formation. Normally 6 feet plus, they are good at heading and strong in a challenge.

Full Back

Full backs play at either side of the center backs in a typical 4 four at the back. In Italy, they operate defensively but in Spain, they are used for an overlap to provide an extra player in attack. You can be of any height but you must be quick! Some of the trickiest players you face are wingers, so you must be on your toes. Full backs are most likely to slide tackle the ball out of play.

Wing Back

A typical wing back plays as part of a back 5. With three in the center of defense, they have fewer responsibilities when defending. They are good all-round players as they have many duties to cover along the flank of the field. The attributes required are crossing and stamina.

Sweeper

A sweeper is not often used because of the problems with offside, as they are the last player. They are normally used with five at the back and the central one is the sweeper. They clear a danger that comes the way of the goal. It is a responsible position because they organize the defense and protect the keeper.

Defensive Midfield

Some defensive midfielder play up and down the field. There is some that drop back when your team has possession. Guardiola uses this system, to allow the full-backs to advance forward leaving the two center backs and defensive midfielders to protect the goal. This position requires strength, stamina, and attention.

Soccer Defense Players

Here is a selection of some of the best defenders in the world. Watch their qualities to learn how they do it. They are all very different, but effective at shutting out the strikers.

Sergio Ramos

Virgil Van Dijk

Marcelo

Knowledge of your all-around game will improve your game in defense – if you know what the striker will do, you’ll know what’s coming. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

Read More…

How to get better at soccer in a day!

Soccer players challenging

Practice these core soccer drills, control, passing, tackling, shooting, and dribbling. Study the guide and train for 20 minutes and you’ll become better in just a day!

Soccer does take some time to improve on, but you are on the right track already by looking up how to improve. One of the biggest ways you can improve is by having dedication and since you have searched on how to improve you have shown your desire to succeed.

There are key elements in soccer that must master in order to become better. For any position, this is control and passing. Depending on the position that you play, other skills are needed like tackling, shooting, dribbling, and defense.

These other skills will help you become an all-around star player – even pro defenders are not noted for how good their shots are. First, you must improve on the basics. Some plasyers and coaches can get carried away with tricks, but in a game they are rarely used.

An online soccer course could be just what you’re looking for, see all of the skills you can learn at Coerver, their packages are awesome, they have coaching for every type of player, click here.

The best players get the basics right, and if you focus on the core skills, you will see an improvement in no time. Read through the steps below to take your game to the next level.

Practice Session

Get better in a day at soccer by using the training routines below. Read one section on this guide and spend 20 minutes practicing. Then, read another section and practice again for 20 minutes. If you are on your own, use a rebound net like this cool one at Amazon, or a wall.

Do these steps in a day or over a week and you will definitely become a better player.

  • Study passing – 2 minutes
  • Practice passing – 20 minutes
  • Study control – 2 minutes
  • Practice control – 20 minutes
  • Study tackling – 2 Minutes
  • Practice tackling – 20 minutes
  • Study Shooting – 2 minutes
  • Practice shooting – 20 minutes
  • Study dribbling – 2 minutes
  • Practice dribbling – 20 minutes

Total time 110 minutes x 3 sessions = 5.5 hours

Take a break for 20 minutes in between each session.

Better at Passing

soccer player side foot pass

Passing is without doubt the most important skill soccer. A killer pass will set-up a teammate to score a goal. A ball should be passed cleanly to another player, this means that it will not be bobbling or bouncing towards them.

Most passed will be made with the inside of the foot, be sure to swing your leg through the pass in a controlled steady way. A perfect pass is one with good pace (not so much that it’s hard to control) – this way it gives the opponent no way to intercept.

The ball is played to feet in most circumstances and a hot tip is to know your teammates and how they prefer the ball. Some players like the ball passed to the stronger foot. If you are attacking, the ball is best played on the goal side of the player.

Through balls can split the defense and cause big problems. Have a connection with the player that you are threading the ball through to – this can be by pointing or just a glance.

Better at Control

Control of the ball is vital to give you that extra second on the ball in this fast-paced game. Ideally, you can control the ball without even looking at the ball. Train your foot so that you can cushion the ball ready for your next touch.

Keep your foot slightly loose so that when the ball connects it acts like a sponge and you soak-up the power with your ankle and leg. The safest way to control the ball is with the inside of your foot.

When you master the basics of control, you can use your toes. This will set you up to go on a dribble. If the ball is coming at you from height, you can also use your toes to cushion the ball – you gradually lower your foot 1cm as the ball connects.

Better at Tackling

tackling and holding off two soccer players

Tackling and regaining the ball is important – you can’t score without the ball! Nicking the ball back by poking your foot in, is the most often type of tackle. If you nudge the ball away a teammate can get the ball or just disrupts and delays the attacker.

All players need to tackle, even the strikers! If a striker regains possession of the ball, they are normally further up the field and dangerous at shooting.

When tackling, you must be strong with your upper body so you don’t get knocked off the ball. Be patient and wait for the right moment – notice when the opponent takes his eye of the ball, that gives you a second to put your foot in.

Know how far you can stretch your leg, if you miss the ball the attacker gets past you. If you can get a clear touch of the ball, use the inside of your foot because that is the strongest way.

Better at Shooting

Shoot low and hard, is the key when you get a chance. Close to the corners is ideal, and when the ball is on the ground the keeper needs to use their feet or dive – place & power. The faster the ball is traveling, the less time the keeper has to react.

If you can side foot the ball with power, this will give you the most accuracy. If not, use the laces of your cleats to get the power. Watch the keeper if your about to shoot, they might be to one side of the goal or looking the wrong way.

Give the keeper the eye! Practice looking at one corner of the goal and shooting to the other side of it. This takes a while to master but when you do, it will be one of your favorites shots.

Better at Dribbling

Use the inside of your foot to begin dribbling and then as you advance, use your toes to nudge the ball forward. Begin in a slow jog dribbling – if you go too fast the ball will easily become out of control.

As you get better with each technique using the inside of your foot and your toes, build up the speed, If you start to lose control just slow down a little until you’ve mastered it.

First of all, keep your eyes on the ball so that you’re connecting well with it and keeping it in close distance. Then once you are comfortable, look up for a second as you dribble. You aim to get to a point where you do not need to look at the ball when you are dribbling.

Watch Players Games

After you’ve completed the practice from above – when you are either playing or watching soccer on television focus on one player. Study the player to see what kind of moves they make. If it is your opponent, then keep playing safe for 10 minutes and then take your chance when you know their weaknesses.

When you are watching your favorite team play, look at the players that don’t have the ball – see how they are getting ready for the next move. Normally they will be on the move making space for their teammate to pass then the ball. Or if they are a defender they will be covering the attackers.

Final thoughts

Practice, practice, practice, and study the tips from above. You’ll become a better player in just one day. Listen to your coaches and players during a game. Working together as a team gets results! There is one article that you must read here on SoccerBlade.com How to Play Soccer – it is packed with top tips.

Read More…

What is soccer vision? Sound Sight

England striker Wayne Rooney and France midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin 23114034985

There are many aspects in the game of soccer that makes a player great, speed, agility, timing, technique. One of the greatest unsung qualities is awareness of the field. So, what is soccer vision?

In basketball, the player who scores the most points is the one who usually takes the MVP of the game, in baseball the one who scores the most home runs is usually the one who takes all the flashes, in soccer, this role is played by the one who scores the most goals,

Normally, he is the main striker of the team and it is logical that this happens because at the end of the day, the goals are the ones that will make the difference between winning, losing or tying a match and this will be what defines who will win a tournament or who will be relegated to a lower division, things that can be very important at different levels and for many people.

However, for a goal to be scored, several things need to happen since it does not depend on the action of a single player except in exceptional individual goals such as the goal of Diego Maradona vs England in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

Even in those cases, there are teammates who make movements to drag the defenders’ marking or give them a clear pass so that the most skilled player can make these kinds of unique plays. And precisely at this point, we find a factor that is typically attributed to midfielders, which allows scanning the field to find the best pass option.

What is scanning in soccer?

Named that way after former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, scanning is the skill a player requires to observe the pitch during a soccer game, before receiving the ball, this in order to make the correct decisions regarding passes and shots and execute them as quickly as possible since as the level of competitiveness in soccer increases, the game is faster and the player has less and less time to decide what to do with the ball.

Players like Xavi, Pirlo, Scholes, or Frank Lampard are examples of soccer players who have trained this skill and helped them become one of the best midfielders in the world.

What is soccer vision – Xavi’s Best Passes

What is soccer vision?

As already mentioned, reading a soccer game requires the player to maintain a constant vision of his or her surroundings, this can be seen in Xavi Hernández, a former FC Barcelona player, who could say that his main skill was his vision of the game.

If he is followed up in any of his matches, you can see how he is always turning his head to observe the pitch in the previous plays to receive the ball. Once you have it, it’s all about finding a free space that one of your peers can take advantage of.

How can I improve my vision for soccer?

This is a skill that is preferable to be worked on as a child so that the player grows with that way of seeing the pitch. To improve vision for soccer it is advisable to try to minimize the time spent watching the ball either when in possession of him or not, increasing the time that the pitch is observed, which will give a greater awareness of the location of colleagues and rivals.

Additionally, it is helpful to locate the colleagues who are doing runs and draw an imaginary line that allows you to visualize where they will be to place the pass in that place, remembering that to give a pass with advantage, it must be done towards the place where he or she is going to be and not to the place where he or she is at the time you observed it.

What is soccer IQ?

Soccer IQ is a term that has been used to encompass certain skills mental that a soccer player has to perform certain movements or actions that are not within the typical characteristics that are usually reviewed in this sport such as pace, shooting, passing, dribbling or defending.

Soccer IQ covers that player’s ability to know how to locate himself on the field at a certain point in the game in view of taking advantage of that position, knowing what to do with the ball, that is, making the best possible decision for the benefit of the team, What is the best action to take at any given time based on the result, the game, the time and other factors.

A recent example that shows how IQ soccer can work is Federico Valverde’s play in the Spain Super Cup final between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid, where, near the end of the game, the Uruguayan fouls Atletico’s striker, Álvaro Morata, to prevent him from scoring the goal, knowing that this would cost him a red card.

Valverde, knowing that there were less than 5 minutes left to finish the game and that if Atletico de Madrid scored that goal there would be very little margin to tie the match, decided to sacrifice himself for the team and this play made the difference in the game that ended up giving the trophy to Real Madrid.

How can I improve my soccer IQ?

The best way to improve soccer IQ is by adapting your way of playing as professional soccer players do, which involves playing at the highest level possible in order to push yourself to the max of your own abilities–this will bring a faster way of thinking about the pitch as well as better decisions.

What is soccer vision – Paul Scholes’ example

As explained in Xavi’s case, observing and learning from the movements and actions that the best players in the world do is always an addition to your game and try to put them into practice whenever possible. Some players say that they imagine the games before playing them with the information they already have from their own team and from the rival, which facilitates their movements once they are on the pitch.

For those who want to play at the highest level or for those who want to improve their level in midweek matches with their coworkers, scanning and soccer IQ are two factors that are good to work to better understand this sport, even when just to watch a game from the stands or on TV.

Watch and learn from the masters of the game, current, and past to pick up some of their skills and have soccer vision. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

Read More…

Are soccer camps worth it? Kickstart Your Career

Female soccer players training - Are soccer camps worth it?

There are many young people in the world who aspire to be professional soccer players as their idols and play on the best teams in the world as well as participate (and win) the most important team and personal trophies. It is normal for a young person to dream to achieve these types of objectives, so are soccer camps worth it?

The path to get there varies depending on several factors, although in all cases it is quite difficult and requires a lot of talent, work, dedication, and commitment.

Are soccer camps worth it?

If you have the dedication to succeed as a top soccer player and there is a high quality camp available they are definitely worth it.

Soccer Academies

In each country the opportunities to achieve professionalism in soccer are different. In most countries in places such as South America and Europe, most soccer clubs have youth teams of different categories where they recruit through testing and train their players for the future.

There are academies dedicated solely and exclusively to train players in both soccer and in an academic level, so that they can then go on to professional clubs, such as the Qatar ASPIRE academy, whose work is carried out in different sports disciplines, not just soccer.

Another system is the one used in South Korea, Japan and United States, where scholarships are used to promote the sport and give opportunities to the most outstanding players through educational institutions such as high schools and universities. In the case of the United States, it is a system that is used for most sports disciplines and incorporates a selection program known as Draft, where franchises choose their prospects.

In these cases, reaching the necessary level to be part of the soccer teams of some of these educational institutions takes on great importance, especially in the aspirations of young players to achieve their dreams in the world of soccer.

Are Soccer Camps Worth it?

Soccer camps can kick-start your career. Working with quality coaches and players every day for a few days or weeks can give your skills a boost with the right program. Ensure the camps have good reviews and work on different aspects of the game.

There are several types of soccer camps; there are men camps and women camps, there are soccer camps for specific age ranges, in some, young people stay overnight, in others they usually return home after the day, some are more intense while others are a little more recreational, mainly so they can enjoy the experience. In short, there is a notorious variety in this type of soccer camps that can be adapted to each young person who is interested.

But, what are the benefits of investing money in an ID college soccer camp? Well, the young player will have direct contact with high-level coaches who will present training methods and technical and tactical demands at the level that would be required of them when being in one of the institutions they represent.

This leads the player to understand what his current level is and what he needs to improve to reach his goal of playing soccer professionally. In addition, in these camps, there are scouts and staff from different teams who take the opportunity to see the young prospects and start initiating contacts with them that may serve the future; this is beneficial for the young person.

Soccer players training - Are soccer camps worth it?

What can I expect at an ID soccer camp?

A typical ID soccer camp day consists of an appropriate breakfast for an athlete with their peers and coaches to initiate ties and communication. Then, the coaches will make a presentation of the soccer camp indicating the activities they have planned for the day, similar to a technical talk from a soccer club.

The first training session of the day begins, which will be interrupted by lunch, this in the same way as breakfast, following the guidelines of nutritionists according to what is best for an athlete. Followed by lunch, a second training session that may be accompanied by some games, depending on the stage of the soccer camp, and finally, a meeting with the coaches to establish feedback on the day.

How do you stand out at a soccer ID camp?

Here are some tips to stand out in an ID soccer camp:

  • First of all, you have to enjoy it. Having fun during the camp is important as this will show your passion for soccer and allow you to be more relaxed to improve your performances.
  • Listen carefully to what the coaches say and do exactly what they ask; this will demonstrate that the player is able to follow the instructions.
  • It is necessary to show the corresponding respect to all those who are part of the camp, such as the coaches, rival players, teammates. In short, to everybody, since all this is considered in the evaluation of coaches and scouts.
  • You should give your best during each and all the different parts of the training process and in each part of the games that are played because these are opportunities that do not appear every day and can end up defining the future of the player in question.
  • It is recommended to ask the coaches about your performance and the points they consider you should improve as well as asking soccer questions in general to show your interest in learning.

ID soccer camps in 2020

Below we are going to list some of the ID soccer camps that will take place in United States during 2020:

  • Maryland Soccer camp
  • US Club Soccer’s exclusive id2 (for women)
  • UCCS Nike Boys ID Camp
  • Pilot Soccer Camps at the University of Portland (for women)
  • Johns Hopkins Women`s Soccer Academy (for women)

In order to answer the question asked in the title of this article, it can be said that ID soccer camps are worth it if you have a real interest in soccer and your life’s biggest goal is to be part of a university institution or a professional team that is part of leagues such as the MLS or the NWSL e even playing in an European club.

Be sure to check the stature of the the camp and the coaches that are there. Top coaches come at a cost, so it depends on what level you are at. If you are starting out a local camp will be beneficial but if you are advanced you may need to travel outer state.

These soccer camps leave a very valuable experience to be exploited and an exhibition that can lead young people to be a little closer to achieving their dream. If you have the desire and the dream to be a top soccer player, soccer camps can excel in your career working with top coaches, in a professional environment. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

Read More…

Why soccer players are the best athletes: Proven or Lame 11

Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo Advanced Soccer Moves FI e1572029598946

The debates go on, who are the best sportspeople and some will say argue, why soccer players are the best. Soccer players are some of the most fascinating athletes to analyze due to the fact that they are a fascinating combination of speed and strength, often having to deal with many different aspects during a game and becoming very refined and developed individuals on a physical level as their careers develop.

Why soccer players are the best athletes;

Soccer players are required to deal with all physical aspects in the sport. The range is like nothing else compared with other sports. From running long distances to short sprints – shoulder to shoulder with tall physical players to dangerous tackles. Soccer is the most popular sport around the world and this demand creates the best.

In other times, soccer players had similar physiques to those of a regular person that was moderately fit as the player’s technical aspect was prioritized more than his physical capacity since the sport used to be played with more complicated conditions such as heavier balls, pitches in poor conditions, the regulation in terms of physical clashes and tackles was more permissive, among other factors that influenced in this regard.

Soccer players legs with ball - Why soccer players are the best athletes?
Photo by Emilio Garcia on Unsplash

Currently, soccer has become a very demanding sport in many ways because a lot of teams cannot challenge the bigger clubs on a technical level, they decide to compensate at a physical level in order to avoid giving advantages and as a result, you have soccer players with very strong physical conditions and capable of performing during large periods of time.

Physical fitness has become so important these days that it is common to find soccer players who have personal physical trainers to maintain a certain level of fitness even out of their team’s training routine and even while they are relaxing on pre-season.

Another point that has changed recently in soccer is the specific work for each position because back in the day only the goalkeeper had a different training than the rest of the players.

However, now the center backs have a tactical and physical preparation that differs from what the full-backs are doing and we can say the same thing with the wingers or the strikers, just to name a few examples and this is quite logical since each position has different demands, although at the end of the day that training results in athletes with enviable physiques.

Who is the fittest soccer player?

Probably the fittest soccer player in the world today, and one of the fittest in the history of the game, is undoubtedly Cristiano Ronaldo, who has such a tremendous physical condition that is evident in the way he performs on a regular basis for Juventus and the degree of endurance that he has played as a winger that cuts inside to end the plays as a striker.

Paul ince bandaged and blooded
Paul Ince bandaged and blooded

However, in the case of Cristiano, besides being an excellent athlete, he also has genetics on his side since studies show that at the age of 35 he has the physique of a 23-year-old person, which also speaks volumes of the dedication and commitment that the Portuguese have throughout his outstanding career in the game.

As other prominent as some of the fittest soccer players today we can mention Olivier Giroud, the French world champion and Chelsea player or the defender of Real Madrid and the Spain national team, Sergio Ramos, both seasoned players that have maintained tremendous physical conditions and have also managed to maintain a certain level of consistency in their performances.

Who are the most athletic soccer players?

One of the sensations of the current season of the English Premier League and in general of European football is Adama Traoré, the Spanish Wolverhampton winger who has impressed everyone with his physical condition, but also with his strength, speed, and skill.

Another player who has worked on his physical condition to improve what he naturally possessed is the Wales and former partner of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, Gareth Bale. The British attacker stood out from the beginning of his career for his skill and pace and as he grew professionally he also improved his physique which helped him to compete better in a league as physically demanding as the English Premier League and later in the Spanish league.

If we focus on speed only, leaving aside the technical aspect, the list of soccer players is significantly expanded by finding, for example, the likes of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the young Kylian Mbappé from Paris Saint Germain, the full-back of Manchester City, Kyle Walker, or the striker Iñaki Williams of the Athletic Club of Bilbao.

Do soccer players have the best bodies?

At a purely aesthetic level, it can be said that soccer players have bodies in excellent shape because they train both the upper and lower part of the body in addition to the aerobic part because different aspects are included in the essence of the sport that leads them to this complete preparation.

In other sports such as tennis, where there is no contact between athletes, or basketball, where training is more explosive due to the nature of the game, there is no such complete focus on working most of an athlete’s physical condition.

Who is faster: a soccer player or football player?

The comparison in this type of discussion leads us to compare soccer players with football players, mainly from the NFL, since many of them have a very prominent development in the upper section of the body and additionally many of them have a past as track and field athletes.

3 Elderly people walking with pictures of famous players behind them
Photo by Philippe Leone on Unsplash

One of the aspects that make the difference between both sports is the resistance that soccer requires since each player runs the equivalent of a 10K marathon in each match vs 2K that runs through an NFL player. The other difference between soccer players with respect to most sports is that it does not focus on a particular feature such as jumping on basketball or speed sprinters–the soccer player has to stand out in all those aspects and many others to compete at the highest level.

Why soccer players are the best athletes

Overall, soccer players are some of the most capable athletes due to the fact that they are trained and prepared to deal with a wide variety of situations and circumstances during the game, which requires them having to be in peak physical condition and being physically developed to cope with a wide variety of challenges.

Soccer is a wonderful sport where there is much to like and that is why soccer players tend to be pushed to the max in order to secure the victory and perform at the highest level. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

Is track good for soccer players?

Track is great for soccer players wanting to improve their sprints and long distance running. Soccer requires twisting and turning, so it is best to vary your workout.

Should soccer players run everyday?

No. Professional players will have at least one day off per week and their bodies are usecd to heavy workouts, so it is important to rest. Vary your workouts so that you get a good all round fitness.
Read More…

Soccer for 3 and 4-year-olds: Laugh & Play

A 3-4-year-old kid playing soccer with dad, running after a ball

When a child reaches the age of 3 or 4, their parents may seek some outlet to occupy their bustling energy stores and curious minds. Although some might not be ready for sports at that age, for many children, this is the perfect time to start playing.  There are many great options, but one fantastic sport for young people is soccer. 

How do you coach soccer for 3 and 4-year-olds?

For 3 and 4-year-olds, soccer should not be highly competitive. It should be played under special conditions with an emphasis on fun. It’s also useful to help them to develop good habits such as warming up, organization, teamwork, and an appreciation for sports and exercise. 
Kid kicking a soccer ball (Soccer for 3 and 4-year-olds)
3 or 4 can be a great age for a child to start playing soccer | Image courtesy of Sheppard AF.
  • A parent or parents may be the coaches for this age group. Some knowledge of the game is required, but instilling joy and fun in the kids through soccer is more important. 
  • Training sessions should involve lots of fun games and drills. These games should be helping kids with the basics of the game, such as using only their feet, kicking, dribbling, scoring, and teamwork. 
  • For those who are showing greater interest and promise than others, there are soccer programs and classes available year-round that cater for this. 

Throughout this article we will be going through each of the main points outlined above, detailing all you need to know about soccer for 3 and 4-year-old boys and girls.

What does soccer do for kids?

There are countless benefits to playing soccer for kids, particularly under the right circumstances. Here are some of them:

Fun

Soccer is tonnes of fun, especially for children. It’s outdoors and involves running, jumping and kicking. You can score goals, assist goals, block, tackle, and pass. What’s more, it’s a team sport and all the fun is had alongside your teammates. 

Health

Many kids nowadays don’t get enough exercise. Playing a sport like soccer is safe, and is fantastic for physical and mental health.

Social

Communication and teamwork are essential parts of soccer. Players get to know each other very well and can become lifelong friends. Soccer can help develop strong social skills for 3 and 4-year-olds. 

Little kids having fun on a soccer field  (Soccer for 3 and 4-year-olds)
There are many benefits to kids playing soccer, including physical, social and mental | Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

Physical Skills

Learning techniques and skills such as running, dribbling, passing, shooting, tackling, etc., is excellent for developing motor skills in kids. This can aid them in their physical development in the coming years. 

Foundations for playing sports

The core aspects of the game of soccer provide good foundations for playing most sports. It may not be very physical in nature but it’s highly technical. Some of the key attributes of a soccer player are: 

  • High fitness level
  • Quick feet
  • Good balance
  • Fast reactions
  • Low center of gravity
  • Strong legs

Soccer for 3 & 4-year-olds

Soccer for 3 and 4-year-olds should be played under unique circumstances. Kids of this age are not ready for competitive matches, or training sessions that focus heavily on technical drills or tactics. Training and games should be fun focused on the surface level, but the coach should be trying to instill some of the core skills of soccer in the session too.

1 day per week is perfect for children of this age to play but it’s not any harm to play more often.

Training sessions should be around 30 – 45 minutes in length. At least for the first few sessions, it’s advised that parents take part in some capacity, even if it means encouraging the kids to participate. 

  • Warm-ups and stretching are essential.
  • The drills/games should be short, plentiful, and must involve using the ball.
  • Here are some fantastic games and drills for 3 and 4-year-old soccer players.
Kids lined-up with soccer balls and coach  (Soccer for 3 and 4-year-olds)
Having enough soccer balls at training can be crucial in keeping interest levels high | Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Soccer Drills and Games 3-4-Year-Olds

Shark Island 

Core skill used: dribbling.

Set out 4 cones to make a large dribbling area. The players have a ball each and must dribble around the area. The coach or a parent act as a sleeping shark within the area. Every so often, the coach shouts “shark”, and the sleeping shark chases after the players, attempting to steal the ball from them. The players dribble away or shield the ball from the shark. 

Treasure Hunt 

Core skill used: dribbling and shooting.

Set up a goal with a cone about shooting distance away (5 yards). Leave a pile of cones or markers (treasure) to the side of the goal. 

The players line up around 20 yards from goal. One at a time, the players dribble to the shooting cone and take a strike on goal. If they score, they grab a piece of treasure (e.g. a cone) and run back to their teammates. 

Set a target of getting a specific amount of treasure.

Hot Potato

Core skills used: passing and dribbling.

It can be played with 1 or 2 balls, depending on the numbers and skill level of the players. Players dribble and pass the ball to one another in an area. They can take a maximum of two touches before passing to a teammate. They must call the name of the teammate to whom they’re passing.

This teaches them to kick purposeful passes. When the coach blows his/her whistle, the player that has the ball is knocked out. Repeat this until there is a winner. When a player is knocked out, they should pass the ball amongst one another outside of the game area, or watch and cheer on their teammates.

Boy running at a girl with a soccer ball
Boys and girls should play together at a young age | Image courtesy of Chip Griffin.

Green Light – Red Light 

Core skills used: reactions and controlled dribbling.

Each player lines up at the starting point with a ball at their feet. The goal is to dribble the ball to a finish line, around 30 yards away. When the coach yells green light, the players can run with the ball. When the coach yells red light, the players must stop. 

Little, Little, Big 

Core skills used: kicking and passing.

This is a race from one point to another, where the players kick the ball the whole way. They must do a little kick, then a second little kick, followed by a big kick. As they perform each kick, they should yell “little, little, big”. This is repeated until all players get to the finishing line. 

Cone Dribbles & Shooting 

Core skills used: dribbling and shooting.

Set out 8 cones in a straight line, making 4 dribbling gates, in front of a goal. Each player dribbles in and out, through the cones, before taking a shot on goal. There is no need for a goalie. 

Tunnel Pass

Core skills used: passing technique.

This is a fun game that’s also great for technique and team bonding. All players line up one behind the other, standing with their feet wide apart. The player at the front of the line, using the proper passing technique, tries to kick the ball through the tunnel of legs and out the other side. Once a player takes their turn, they join the back of the line. 

Scrimmage

It’s important for players to scrimmage so that they can apply their skills to a game scenario and learn to play as a team. The end of a training session is a good time to do this. It can be a good idea to enforce a rule whereby players can have a maximum of two touches before they have to pass or shoot. 

Soccer Stretches for 3-4-Year-Olds

Stretching should be performed to warm down post-training. This helps to prevent injury.

Kids doing stretches with soccer ball and coach  (Soccer for 3 and 4-year-olds)
Stretching is an important habit for young players to get into | Image courtesy of Chip Griffin.

The examples shown are by adults, but kids really enjoy these warm-ups and warm-downs. It not only gets them physically warmed-up, but also emotionally, so they can mess about and be kids Here are some key stretches for 3 and 4-year-old soccer players:

Calf 

There are several ways to stretch the calves. My personal favorite is the stretch from 1:10 on the video below.

Hamstring 

Your hamstrings are located on the back of your thigh. They are the most common muscles to be injured in soccer so it’s vital to keep them limber. Check out the video below for the best hamstring stretches.

Seated Groin and Inner Thigh 

Again, there are several ways to do this stretch. Find out what suits you best by looking at the video below.

Standing Quad 

The quads are the main muscles involved in kicking and are responsible for a lot of explosive movements. The standing quad stretch is one of the best for soccer players.

Hip Flexors

These also play a huge role in kicking and are often overlooked, leading to unwanted injuries. A great stretch for the hip flexors is demonstrated at 2:33 in the video below.

Soccer Classes and Programs

For 3 and 4-year-old soccer players, a handful of interested parents might negate the need for a real coach. A small amount of knowledge of the game combined with fun games and enthusiasm is enough to coach most kids at this level. 

However, there are classes and programs available in most areas where kids are trained by qualified coaches. Sessions are adapted and suited to the kids’ ages but there may be a higher level of training. These programs may also be affiliated with a league, where teams play against each other. This gives kids their first introduction to competitive sports, although the emphasis is generally placed on participation rather than winning. 

Here are some of the most popular classes and programs around. Check and see if they are in your area and if they offer the kind of soccer that your child will love;

It’s just the beginning…

Soccer a fun sport that’s easy to understand and can be enjoyed by everyone. Playing at such a young age can lay down the foundations for a great soccer career, but it’s important to remember that it’s just the beginning. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and some players will naturally improve at different ages.

The most important thing is that all the players enjoy themselves. That being said, who knows what could be in store for a 3 or 4-year-old with talent? It could be the start of something special. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

At what age should my child start playing soccer?

This can vary from child to child but generally, kids are ready to be introduced to sports between the ages of 3 and 4. For others, it might be a year or two later. 

What equipment does a child need to start playing?

Soccer cleats and shin guards are the only specialized gear needed. Other than that, generic sports gear (t-shirt, shorts, etc.) is suitable.

Does a child need to know the rules of soccer before starting?

No. It definitely helps if they have an interest or knowledge of the sport and it’s rules but it’s not a necessity. They will learn as they play.
Read More…

Why do soccer players have big leg muscles? Unstoppable

Soccer players big legs muscles

The soccer player’s leg muscles are big for good reason. At a professional level, soccer is played by world-class athletes. They have extremely high stamina levels, competing up to 3 or 4 times per week for 90-minute games.

Players are constantly on the move with many short sprints, jogging, and jumping. Soccer players need to be lean, flexible, agile, have a very strong core and big leg muscles.

Why do soccer players have big leg muscles?

The main muscles used and worked on are:

  • Calves
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings

A player must focus training on building their leg muscles for:

  • Speed
  • Acceleration/Deceleration
  • Power
  • Jumping
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance

One of the most important traits a soccer player must have is strong, muscular legs, capable of meeting the demands of a full season of training and matches. Soccer is played predominantly using the legs.

Players are constantly on their feet, with the main actions being running, kicking, jumping, and turning. Defensively, legs are the most important tools. They are used to block, tackle, and slide. They’re also put under constant strain from impact/physical contact.

“Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take action after clicking one of these”

Cristiano Ronaldo – possibly the greatest athlete to ever play the game. 

These muscles serve different functions, some of which may or may not be for vanity reasons. Let’s take a more detailed look at the role the legs play for a soccer player, what each muscle group actually does, and how players train and work out their legs.

Why do soccer players have big leg muscles?

The main roles of the legs in soccer are the following:

Running 

Soccer players run an average of 7 miles in a game, with certain positions covering closer to 10 miles per contest. That is a lot of running, especially when we compare to other sports:

SportAvg. distance run per game (miles)
Baseball0.0375
American Football1.25
Basketball2.55
Tennis3
Field Hockey5.6
Soccer7

Speed 

Speed can be a tricky ability to study. It is quite a general measurement when there is no in-game application. A player may be dribbling a ball while sprinting, or changing direction.

A soccer player will rarely sprint further than 20 meters at a time, meaning that +4 second sprints aren’t often observed. Therefore the maximal speed of a player isn’t necessarily a relevant statistic. In any case, leg muscles are a core component of speed. 

Real Madrid and Wales National team player, Gareth Bale, holds the record for the highest speed recorded on a soccer pitch, where he topped out at 39.9 km/h (24.79 mph). To give this some context,

Usain Bolt’s max speed ever recorded was 44.72 km/h (27.8 mph). Considering that Bolt is the fastest man to ever live, and Bale was recorded hitting that speed in-game, running on a field, in cleats, the speed is truly staggering. Check-out the reviews for these resistance bands over on Amazon – they will get you big leg muscles.

Acceleration

As alluded to above, it’s beneficial for a player to work on their speed over short distances to make significant impacts on their overall game. The ability to decelerate is also crucial. Players need to be able to slow down, stop, or change direction at a moment’s notice.

Control in such instances is critical. Fast-twitch fibers in the leg muscles are responsible for the explosive movements carried out in soccer, particularly accelerating and decelerating. 

Check out some of the speed demons in today’s game.

Power 

Leg power is necessary for many on and off the ball techniques and movements, such as:

  • Kicking (shooting, passing, etc.)
  • Vertical jump.
  • Short sprints / acceleration / deceleration.
  • Functional strength and balance.

Jumping 

A player’s jumping ability is important for individual and team performance. Many instances throughout a game will require a player to jump, both defensively and offensively. Strong and powerful leg extensors are needed to ensure adequate performance in these scenarios.

It takes well-developed leg muscles to be able to score a header like this.

Flexibility

Leg flexibility can be the difference between a player reaching across at the back post to score a crucial goal or missing it. It can be the reason a player makes a successful last-ditch tackle to prevent an opponent from scoring, or it can simply come in handy when controlling an awkward pass.

Although great flexibility isn’t a necessity to be a quality player, it can be an absolute game-changer. Modern players dedicate a huge amount of time to help limber up their bodies and to become more flexible. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has displayed countless examples of game-changing flexibility throughout his career. Here is one spectacular example, showing his amazing leg dexterity at the tender age of 37.

Endurance 

Between games, practices, and other sport-based activities, soccer players absorb a high volume of impact and collisions on their legs. They must be trained, treated, and rested adequately to be able to endure this and prevent serious injury.

Soccer Player’s Leg Muscles

Calves 

The calf muscles are located on the back of the lower part of the leg. They are constantly engaged in a match or training session, from running, jumping, and particularly during explosive movements (acceleration, deceleration, and kicking). Soccer players generally have large, well-developed calves. 

Soccer players calf muscles - Why do soccer players have big leg muscles?
Vascular calf muscles after a tough workout | Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

Quads 

The quadriceps are a four muscle group located on the front of the thigh. They link directly to the knee joints and muscles. Quads are crucial in running, jumping, and kicking. They are the main contributors to generating power in kicking. Soccer players tend to have large, lean, well developed, and often fibrous looking quad muscles. 

View this post on Instagram

Back at the rehab in Wales. Leg day 😅

A post shared by Gareth Bale (@garethbale11) on

Bale certainly doesn’t skip leg day.

Hamstrings

Hamstrings are a set of three posterior thigh muscles. Located at the back of the thigh, they cross both the hip and knee joints. Soccer players’ hamstrings undergo a lot of stress as they are the main component in thrusting players forward. 

As players are required to perform several short sprints during games, they are subject to a lot of force. Subsequently, hamstring injuries are very common. Around 40% of injuries in soccer are to hamstrings.

Anatomically speaking, humans are built for jogging and endurance rather than intense, explosive sprinting. This could also be one of the main factors behind hamstring injuries. 

Big Leg Muscle Workouts

Running 

Running is part of all soccer training sessions and matches. Jogging, sprinting, changing directions, jumping and other running movements help strengthen, lean out, and increase the endurance of the legs. 

Strength and Conditioning 

Strength and conditioning have become an important part of a modern pro soccer player’s training schedule. Each player will usually have a personalized program and will do gym work at least 2 to 3 days per week. As you can imagine, the legs are concentrated on heavily.

It would be common for players to perform a leg based gym circuit twice per week, however, Scott Miller (coach at Fulham FC) recommends that they leave 2 rest days before a game to ensure they are able to recover. In the regular season, players often avoid lifting heavy weights to lower the risk of injury. 

The main muscles targeted are calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and adductors. 

Here are some common leg exercises a player may perform: 

  • Squats
  • Walking Lunges
  • Dumbell Squats
  • Box jumps
  • Reverse Lunges
  • Glute bridges

These exercises focus on building strength, as well as improving speed and power.

Recovery

Recovery is essential for any elite athlete. It keeps their bodies fit, strong, and it’s one of the main combatants of injury. Players go above and beyond to ensure that they recover their legs after training and games. The top players get massages after every work-out, with this cool massage gun on Amazon you can treat yourself. Here are some of the other best methods:

Warm Downs 

Performed immediately after a game or at the end of a training session. Light cardio helps rid the body of lactic acid and other waste that builds during exercise. These allow the body to recover much faster.

Soccer players preparing for a warm-down after a game - Why do soccer players have big leg muscles?
Warming down, even when exhausted, should always be a priority | Image courtesy of Md.faisalzaman.

Sleep 

Sleep is the best and most natural form of recovery. It’s important that pro’s in today’s game monitor their sleep very closely. Some of the major clubs around the world have sleep pods at their training grounds in case a player needs to get some rest.

Foam Roll 

These are often used in active recovery sessions to work out muscle knots. The foam is used as a massage for players, it helps with aches and pains. Watch this video for a great demonstration;

Cold Water Immersion (E.g. Ice baths) 

Behind sleep, ice baths are often regarded as the best type of muscle recovery for athletes. Coldwater immersion reduces inflammation and soreness, restores muscle contractile function and force production, maintains athletic performance over a sustained period of activity, and aids faster recovery.

Mobility Work 

Active recovery is performed by all soccer players. It reduces tightness in the muscles and helps improve and stabilize the muscles and joints. It plays a crucial role in injury prevention

Hydration 

Drinking water replaces the vital mineral and electrolyte stores that are lost due to sweat.

Soccer player hydrating with water
Hydration is crucial, particularly in hot weather | Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Refueling

Players must be fuelled by the right foods. After a game, it is crucial to replenish the body with high-quality foods. Protein is vital to repair and recover muscles.

As mentioned, players’ legs undergo severe stress and force throughout a game, so protein shakes or protein-rich foods are usually consumed very soon after a game/training session.

Specialist Sport

The demands of a soccer player, and in particular, their legs, require lots of training, work, and recovery. Why do soccer players have big leg muscles? They build muscle in their legs for strength, power, and endurance so that they can play the game at the highest level while trying to stay injury-free.

The nature of the game of soccer means that a player will naturally develop quite muscular, lean legs if they are playing a lot. So, do you want to get big leg muscles? Easy – start playing soccer! For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

Are soccer players strong? Soccer players, on average, are not very large athletes. Some positions require a bigger, stronger player (a center-back or goalkeeper for example). However, they have exceptional balance, a low center of gravity, and strong core strength. They are lean and slim, yet functionally strong for their size. 

Do soccer players lift weights? Not all players do, but most incorporate weight training into their workout routines, particularly in the offseason.

Can a soccer player be too muscular? Functional and optimal strength is key for soccer. They require a high level of endurance and stamina. If a player carries a large amount of excess muscle, they are likely to be slower and to tire easier. Therefore, soccer players tend to not be overly muscular. 

Read More…

Juggle a Soccer Ball: 18 Step-by-Step Tips

Juggling a soccer ball

Often viewed as a showy or flashy skillset with little relevance to the actual game of soccer, the benefits of juggling a ball are often overlooked. Although you are not likely to ever juggle a ball for a sustained period in a game, the various touches and techniques used when practicing juggling are some of the most useful and important skills in soccer.

How to juggle a soccer ball for beginners step by step?

  • 1. Body Position
  • 2. Body Shape
  • 3. Kicking Technique
  • 3. Practice
  • 4. Use Backspin
  • 5. Alternate Feet
  • 6. Use Different Body Parts
  • 8. Knee/Thigh
  • 9. Heading
  • 10. Shoulders
  • 11. Heel
  • 12. Chest
  • 13. Establish a Rhythm

Advance onto the pro tips later if you have mastered the basics.

  • 14. Maradona 7
  • 15. Soccer Tennis
  • 16. Juggle with a friend
  • 17. Juggle Circles
  • 18. Juggling Tips

Juggling is a fantastic way to enhance fundamentals on your own, with minimal equipment and space needed. In team sessions, a coach will rarely instruct players or teach players to juggle the ball.

However, if you really want to excel at the sport, you should be trying to add extra sessions to your weekly schedule, dedicated to personal skill development. Juggling exercises are the perfect way to squeeze in a 10-minute skill workout if you are busy, or they can be incorporated into a larger workout. 

“Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take action after clicking one of these”

Juggle a soccer ball - a player flicking the ball with his heel
Landon Donovan practicing juggling | Image courtesy of Jarrett Campbell.

We’ve all seen our soccer heroes juggling the ball, often using a personal flair to spice things up. This can give off the impression that juggling is a very difficult skill. The good news is, that in its basic form, juggling is quite straight forward.

So how do you juggle a soccer ball? Essentially, it is the act of keeping the ball in the air, without letting the ball touch the floor/ground. You can use various body parts to do so but you shouldn’t “handball” or break the core rules of the game. 

Juggling a soccer ball tips;

  1. Body Position: knees slightly bent, head leaning over the body, feet shoulder with apart. The player should be light on their feet, or on their toes to enable quick movement.
  2. Start by dropping the ball from your hands toward your feet. 
  3. Kick the ball upward (ideally about chest height).
  4. Wait for the ball to drop toward your feet and repeat the above step.
  5. Use backspin to keep the ball close to your body.
  6. Alternate what foot you’re kicking with.
  7. Use different parts of the body to control the ball.
  8. Establish a rhythm.

We will now look at these basic steps in a little more detail. As you progress with your ability to juggle the ball, you should begin to use different parts of your feet, different body parts, and attempt to juggle in set patterns (we will look at some of these also). As with all individual-based drills, it’s important to set goals and targets.

Use a target net to mix-up your juggling practice to make it more game-like. This rebound net is ideal to pass the ball and take it back using your control. It will excel your game, check it out at Amazon here.

Check out these amazing freestyle jugglers.

How to Juggle a Soccer Ball: Tips

1. Body Position

  • Stand on a flat surface
  • Stay on your toes or be light on your feet – whichever you are more comfortable with.
  • Slightly bend your knees for balance and optimal movement. 
  • During the exercise your head should be pointed slightly downward, keeping eyes on the ball at all times. 
  • Particularly for beginners, the accuracy of juggling may be poor and you may spend some time moving around trying to keep the ball under control. The most important factor here is to be loose, agile and mobile enough to do so. 

2. Body Shape

  • Start by dropping the ball from your hands toward your kicking foot.
  • With your body positioned as described above and staying light on your feet, you are ready to kick the ball and start to juggle.
  • If you are a more advanced player, try starting with the ball on the ground. You can use a variety of “flick-ups” to get the ball in the air – then begin to juggle.
Here are some examples of “flick-ups” that you can practice.

3. Kicking Technique

  • Kick the ball upward, to about chest height. Ensure that each kick is light and controlled. This prevents wasted movement and helps establish control over the ball, as well as setting a rhythm/tempo.
  • The ball should come off the top of your foot, often referred to as “the laces”.
  • When striking the ball, lock your ankle and point your toe upward. This gives you the best chance to strike a controlled accurate kick. It is also the best way to get backspin on the ball.

3. Practice

Juggling a soccer ball with ball balanced on foot
  • To begin with, you can practice single juggles. This helps you to get the right power, accuracy, and technique of a juggle. 
  • Once you are comfortable with this, the aim should be to continue juggling the ball multiple times in a row, without the use of your hands.
  • Instead of catching the ball after you kick, wait for the ball to fall back down naturally and repeat the kicking technique outlined above.

4. Use Backspin

The correct amount of backspin will help you to keep the ball close to your body, making consecutive juggles a lot easier. 

  • Lock your ankle, point your toes upward, and kick the ball with the top of your foot in a forward scooping motion. This will cause the ball to travel upward with some backspin. 
  • Be careful not to overdo the backspin causing you to lose control of the ball or kick it against your own body.

5. Alternate Feet

It’s important to use both feet when juggling. A player who is strong on their “weaker” foot, always has an advantage. At first, it may be difficult to incorporate your weaker foot, but once you begin to improve, having an extra appendage makes juggling easier. It allows you to make up for a misplaced kick or regain control whilst staying balanced. 

  • To begin with, take your first juggle on your dominant foot but the second with your weaker foot. Initially, all you need to do is perform one juggle with your weaker foot.
  • Once you are making controlled juggles with your weaker foot, try alternating juggles from your stronger foot to your weaker foot.
  • Patience is key here, as is technique. 
  • Once you are comfortable using both feet, you can freestyle your juggling order, switching from right to left as you please.
Here are some excellent tips for any player.

6. Use Different Body Parts

Using different parts of the body to juggle has many benefits:

  • In a game, a ball can come at you from any angle or height so it’s important to be able to use different body parts to control the ball. 
  • While juggling, it takes a lot of skill and control to get the ball to different areas of your body. Therefore, this helps improve a player’s control over power, accuracy, and first touch. 
  • Overall coordination is enhanced.
  • A player’s balance is crucial when juggling, particularly when using different parts of the body. Practice can only improve a player’s core and balance. 

Here are some of the body parts you should be involving in your juggling routine:

8. Knee/Thigh

Juggling a soccer ball with ball on knee
  • Make contact with the ball when your upper leg is perpendicular to your hip. 
  • Connect with the ball just above your knee, on your thigh.
  • Avoid making contact with the angular part of the knee. It is almost impossible to control the ball with this part of the leg.

9. Heading

Juggle a soccer ball - heading
  • Relax your neck until the point of contact.
  • Keep your eyes on the ball.
  • Connect with the ball using your forehead.
  • Slightly bend the knees and use your arms to generate momentum and posture the upper body.

To practice, try to perform consecutive light upward headers.

10. Shoulders

Use of the shoulder to strike a soccer ball is not the most practical skill to have but occasionally it may have its uses. Using shoulders while juggling definitely has benefits regarding your judgment of the flight of a ball, as well as your balance. As the shoulders are not flat and have a relatively small surface area, it is difficult to control a shoulder strike.

  • As the ball approaches your shoulder, tilt your head to the side, watch the ball as it comes down, and gently shrug your shoulder upward to initiate contact with the ball. 
  • The top of the shoulder, where it is most even, is the best area to make contact with. 
  • Ensure that you do not make contact with the ball using your arm.
  • It’s not important to do consecutive shoulder juggles, so concentrate on bringing the ball back under control after executing one. 

11. Heel

The use of your heel in soccer is often high risk, high reward. In some cases, it can get you out of a tricky situation or demonstrate a beautiful piece of skill. However, when it goes wrong, it comes across as being wasteful. Using a backheel in a juggling routine improves spatial awareness and acts as a great practice for in-game, first-time backheels. 

Juggle a soccer ball - heel flick
  • Position yourself so that the ball is dropping behind your legs.
  • Bring your heel up gently, creating a 90-degree angle between the upper and lower parts of your leg. 
  • Make contact with the ball using the back of your heal. This is a hard surface so there is no need to generate too much force.
  • Ensure that you connect with the center of the ball for accuracy. The heel is a small area of the foot so it can be hard to have a lot of control using it. 
  • Aim relatively high with your heel kicks, giving yourself time to adjust your body position in order to control the ball again.
  • It is not important to do consecutive heel kicks while juggling.

12. Chest

The chest should be used for overall control or to cushion the ball back into your juggling routine after an inaccurate touch. Learn back to let the ball hit your chest so that you cushion the ball. This brings the ball back under control and it will drop nicely towards your feet. You may need to take a step back to give yourself a little distance between the ball.

You can also chest the ball forward by pulling back your shoulders and pushing your chest forward, propelling the ball in front of you. Time it so that you push forward just as the ball is coming to you for greater control and power.

13. Establish a Rhythm

Juggle a soccer ball on the chest

Once you are versed in each of these steps and are comfortable juggling the ball using a variety of techniques, the key to mastering the art of juggling is to establish a rhythm. In this instance, what I mean by rhythm is a measured emphasized pattern with particular touches or movements. 

Pro Juggling

I have outlined some nice juggling combos and fun drills below, so check out some of these useful patterns to practice. All of the pros play juggling volleyball using a net and it’s great fun. It is one of the best ways to improve your touch – see this cool portable net at Amazon here.

14. Maradona 7

The Maradona 7 is a juggling pattern named after the famous Argentinian, Diego Maradona. It involves 7 touches of the ball.

  • 2 x consecutive juggles with the feet (1 with the left, 1 with the right), followed by:
  • 2 x consecutive juggles with the knees/thighs (1 with the left, 1 with the right), followed by:
  • 2 x consecutive juggles with the shoulders (1 with the left, 1 with the right), followed by:
  • 1 x header.

Here is a demonstration of the Maradona 7. It’s more difficult than it looks, especially using the shoulders.

15. Soccer Tennis

The concept of this game (as you would assume) is the same as tennis:

  • Set up a net at a height that you’re comfortable with.
  • Create 2 square/rectangular sections either side of the net. These are the zones of play, with one section allocated per player. 
  • Begin the game by serving – kicking or heading the ball into your opponent’s zone. 
  • The opposing player must return kick, head, knee, shoulder or chest the ball back over the net.
  • The ball may only bounce once inside the zone.

To make things more difficult, you can add some more rules. For example:

  • You may only take a certain amount of touches. 
  • Volleys (before the ball bounces) are not allowed. 
  • Adjust the size of each zone.
  • Adjust the height of the net.

Or, try playing doubles. This is a great game to improve your skillset and it’s a lot of fun.

Check out Bayern Munich playing some soccer tennis.

16. Juggle with a friend

Again, this is straight forward but very beneficial. Quite simply, stand across from a partner and take turns juggling the ball, passing the ball back and forth. The aim of this drill is to not let the ball touch the ground. 

Some extensions to this drill are:

  • Set targets for how long you can keep the ball in the air.
  • Isolate certain body parts and practice using only these to juggle. For example, juggle the ball using only your head or feet.
  • Set a limit to the number of touches each player can take.
Juggle a soccer ball between two players
Two players practicing juggling together | Image courtesy of CJTF-HOA.

17. Juggle Circles

This is the same concept as above but is intended for larger groups.  The players should form a circle and try to juggle the ball amongst each other, without letting the ball hit the floor. To really spice things up, try adding multiple balls.

Here’s a unique perspective of a Bayer Leverkusen juggling circle.

18. Juggling Tips

As a rule of thumb, it’s always important to set targets in order to achieve meaningful progress. When juggling, start off basic, slow, and easy. Work your way from single juggles, to multiple, to using different body parts, to practicing the more advanced juggling drills mentioned above. 

Take light touches, always be in control and don’t kick the ball too high (unless you are doing so intentionally to make things more difficult). Try not to rely too much on your dominant foot, and persist on practicing using different parts of the body.

For the days when you don’t have time for a full practice session, dedicate 5 or 10 minutes to juggling. Every minute adds up, and you are sure to see benefits to your game. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

How much time should I spend practicing juggling? There is no perfect answer to this. There are many aspects of the game that need to be practiced, so it depends on what you are hoping to achieve. If you aim to improve juggling and the skills involved in juggling, try spending 10 minutes per day, 5 days per week juggling. 

What footwear should I wear to practice juggling? You should wear whatever shoes or cleats that you practice and play games in. That way, the skills being practiced will feel more familiar in a game or training session.

What’s the best way to measure progress? Quality of touch and control are hard to measure but are aspects of juggling that you should feel or notice improving. Other ways to measure progress are:

  • Set targets for a number of consecutive dribbles. 
  • Time yourself juggling. 
  • Create a set pattern for juggling and practice perfecting this pattern. 
Read More…

How To Play Soccer: 41 Cool Coach Tips

soccer player kicking ball example how to play soccer 900px

It takes a number of years to learn how to play soccer. I first played with friends at school and at home and we had our own simple rules – get the ball in the net! Having fun is the most important thing when you are playing soccer, enjoy yourself.

How do I play soccer? You need to know some of the basic rules of the game and then learn the techniques of using the soccer ball – control, kick, tackle, dribble, head and taking a set-piece.  

In this article, I will guide you on all of the important skills you need to have to be able to play the game of soccer, plus there are advanced tips that will give you the edge. Videos can show you some things, but words explain it. The article goes into detail for every step, so grab a comfy chair and learn how to play soccer.

Soccer match behind assistant referee - how to play soccer

How To Play Soccer: Rules

1. Start of a Game

Before a match a game start, the direction the teams play needs to be decided. The captains and the referee will get together and a coin will be tossed, the winner will decide which direction they will face in the first half (if there is a strong wind it is best to have your back to the wind and hope it’s not as strong in the second half).

The teams will stand in the half where their goal is, they are defending.  The team that lost the coin toss, will kick off the match by placing the ball on the spot in the center of the field – the ball is passed back into your own half.

Note, the old rules had two players in the center circle, one to tap it into the opponent’s half and the other player would continue – now that rule is obsolete, you only need one player starting the match. From there, each team will advance into the opposition half to try and advance with the ball. 

2. After A Goal

When a goal is scored and the players celebrate, all players will return to their own half. The kick-off procedure is the same as it is for the start of a game. Sometimes a goal can be scored on the whistle for half time or full time, in this case, there will be no need for a kick-off to take place. 

3. Half Time

At half time, the referee will blow the whistle to signal the game has ended for half time. When the referee whistles for a foul or stoppage, there is one blow of the whistle and for half time two. For a pro’s match, there will be a 15-minute break for the players to rest and get instructions from the coach. 

soccer field diagram the areas of the field to helping how to play soccer

4. End of A Match

At the end of the match, the referee will blow the whistle 3 times. This will be after extra time is added on for injuries and stoppages. When the whistle is blown the players will shake each other’s hand, along with the officials as a sign of respect. The players will then return to their coach and be given compliments and advice. 

5. Fouls

A foul is given against a player when they obstruct, kick or the hand/arm touch the ball. If a player blocks an opponent without going for the ball it is obstruction. If you kick a player when you are trying to tackle, it is a foul (a foot can touch another player’s leg and not be a foul, it needs to be an obvious disadvantage to the opponent.

6. Yellow Cards

General fouls will go unpunished, but if you commit a number of them you can receive a yellow card. Yellow cards are also given if you foul when the opposition is making a promising break to your goal. Pulling a jersey will get you a yellow card along with an intentional handball.

If you show disrespect to the referee/staff/players and fans, this can get your name in the ‘book’. Youth games will normally see fewer yellow cards than a pro match because the referee will be lenient due to miss-timing or not knowing. 

Player positions - Defense, Midfield and Attack.
Corner Ark, penalty box, six yards box, center circle, goal, penalty spot, center spot, goal line, penalty ark, halfway line, corner kick, touch line, throw in. Wing/flank - back, middle and front.

7. Red Cards

Two yellow cards will get you a red card and you will have to leave the field for the rest of the game. Players are sometimes fined money and suspended for following games depending on their offense. A red card will be given if you cause a risk to injure a player by being reckless.

This can be if you slide tackle from behind, slide tackle with your studs showing, elbow a player or raise your hand and strike a player’s face. 

8. Pass Back

The pass back rule is introduced in most leagues from under 9’s, but this can vary. If a player passes the ball back to their goalkeeper, the GK is not allowed to pick the ball up, they kick the ball but. If the pass was unintentional the GK can pick it up.

This rule was introduced to keep the game flowing because it slowed down the game. If the GK does pick up the ball from a pass by a player on the same team, a free kick is awarded (this will be from wherever the ball is picked up/handled).

For the pros, an indirect freekick is given, which means if you shoot from the free-kick and scored the goal will not be given, so another player needs to touch the ball after the kicker. The indirect freekick rule is not always used in youth soccer – be sure to ask the referee if it happens in your game. 

standing on a soccer ball - this is how to play soccer

How To Play Soccer: Control

9. Stopping

The most simple way is to let the ball hit you and as silly as this may seem, you can do this is many cool ways. One of my favorite players when I was younger, used to let the hit his bum as he bent over it. Another example is from Ronaldinho, he has passed the ball by letting hit his back! He angled his back to get it directed to his teammate. 

A couple of simpler methods include putting your foot on the ball but the most used one is by turning your foot so that the inside of your foot cushions the ball. If you keep your leg too stiff the ball will bounce away, so keep your foot a little loose so that your foot becomes like a sponge on skills the ball.  

10. Receive

soccer player side passing

When the ball is coming towards you, it is best that you stand facing the ball with your feet at an angle, which will allow you to move your feet to control the ball when it is a yard or two away and you know where it is going to land. Have your favorite foot open for the ball to hit the inside of your foot, which allows to control it easily or allows you to make a first-time pass. 

11. Trapping

Trapping a bouncing ball requires good timing. You need to time the trap so that it is when the ball is closest to the ground. If you try to trap the ball any more than three inches from the ground, the ball can easily bounce away from you.

When the ball is close to the ground you need to quickly stamp your foot on it. Practice this at home, simply by dropping the ball – you can trap it on the first or second bounce. To make it harder, throw the ball into the air. 

12. In The Air

The foot: if the ball is going away from you stretch out your leg and curl the toes in your cleats upwards – this movement of the toes creates a slight curve which allows controlling the ball easier. If the ball is coming towards you, turn your foot outwards so your inside foot is shown and have your cleats at a 45-degree angle to the ground to trap control it in the air.

soccer player juggling the ball

With both methods, allow your foot to be slightly loose so that you cushion the ball. The chest: If the ball is coming directly towards you, keep your chest straight and tuck back your shoulders, so that there is more strength to your chest. When the ball is coming from above, get in position to where the ball is going to land at the height of your chest. 

Lean your head back and open your chest to allow the ball to land on your chest. The head: A cushioned header is required to stop the ball in the air. This is the same technique required to control the ball with the foot. Get in the correct position under the ball and relax your head and shoulders – this will cushion the power of the ball.

Imagine if the ball was to hit the goal post, it would rebound off, but if the posts were not fixed to the ground it would cushion the power. For all of these steps, after you’ve cushioned it, prepare your next move by getting behind the ball ready to pass it or dribble. 

striking a soccer ball with arms for balance

How To Play Soccer: Kicking

13. Touch

The most common and easiest way to touch a soccer ball is with the inside of your foot. This is used for all aspects of the game – passing, dribbling, and shooting. This is done with the ark of your foot – the hardest part. Your leg needs to be at an angle so that you are not just twisting your ankle.

It will take time for your muscles to adapt. When starting out, players use their toes to kick the ball along, but make sure you have strong footwear, otherwise, it can bend back your toenails! 

14. Passing 

soccer player side foot pass

The easiest and most accurate way to pass a soccer ball is with the inside of your foot. Have one foot firmly planted into the ground and the other one will swing towards the ball. The swing of the leg is important – if the swing is loose of going in different directions in the swing, it can cause the ball to go away from the target.

When the foot contacts the ball, keep the ankle and foot firm to get a ‘clean contact’. You need to hit the ball in the center of the ball or just underneath. If you hit the ball at the upper point, your foot will go over the ball and cause the ball to have topspin. Passing can be done with any part of the body.

The most important thing is for the moving part of the body to be aiming in a consistent direction towards the player you are passing too. Image a golf club and the swinger – the angle needs to be aligned towards the hole with a firm grip, for the put to go straight. 

15. Chipping

To chip the ball, you need to get your foot underneath the ball. There are two ways of doing this. 1. With the inside of the foot, the ball will be connected with the upper end of the toe. So you will swipe your foot, like a side pass but the connection area of your foot will be different for a chip.

behind legs of a dribbling player

The blades of your cleats need to sweep through the turf. (avoid trying to get too much under the ball, you can kick the ground – which is painful!) 2. The laces: Angle your feet towards the ball and swing your leg, so that the toes go towards the ball. Point your toes down slightly, so the foot gets underneath the ball. Again have the studs of your blades brush along the turf to get under the ball.

This is my favorite technique because it makes them do a backspin. Back spins help the ball to float in the air better, plus when a back spinning ball hit the ground if does not run away from the player that you are passing it too, also if you try to chip the keeper, the spin of the ball will pull it down from the air. 

16. Shooting

The best two ways to shoot are 1. With power and 2. With accuracy. If you are outside of the penalty box, you need power and if there is a good goalkeeper in goal, you need accuracy as well. The most important thing all soccer coaches say is, get it on target. Give the keeper something to think about and there is a possible bonus of a deflection off of the GK, which will give a chance for a rebound.

soccer player striking the ball

When you are shooting in practice it is best to aim for the corners. Once you get accurate at shooting, you can increase the power – but first must come the technique. There are some occasions when a power shot will be the best option, when there is a crowd of players or when you are close to the keeper – a power shot will give the GK no time to react.

Place the ball with the inside of your foot and when you become better you can attempt to curl the ball. To curl the ball, use the inside of your foot towards the toes and as you strike the ball the term ‘wrap your foot around it’ is used. As you hit the ball your leg arches around the ball on the right of the ball if you’re a right-footer. 

The laces are used mostly getting power into a shot. For this, you need to tilt the foot towards the ball, so that the laces of your cleats hit the ball. Make sure to follow your leg through with a good swing to get the most power.

17. Clearing 

Clearing the ball is a defensive term for getting the ball away from the danger zone. Any of the ways mentioned will clear the ball, but most commonly you will need power and height. The most important thing is to clear the ball away from the goal area, so there is less risk of a goal threat.

You can simply pass the ball out to the touchline to give the opposition a throw in – this is better than conceding! Ideally, when you clear the ball it will go into an area where the striker is so that you have a chance of a counterattack.

Safety does come first when playing soccer, but if you panic and clear the ball when you don’t need to, you give the ball back to the opposition and lose possession. As a famous commentator said, you can’t score when you haven’t got the ball!

18. Volley

soccer player volleying with laces

A volley is a term used when you kick the ball that is off of the ground. Two terms for this are, a half volley, this is when the ball has bounced off of the ground and a volley which normally comes from another player. As mentioned in the side foot section, you can volley with a side foot.

This is a great way to pass a ball quickly when it is bouncing and it is easier to put it in the air because you need less power to do so. The most lethal volley is with the laces. Keep your foot straight towards the ball and flick the knee to the ball, keeping your ankle firm to generate power.

To make the volley low, curl your toes down to the ground and to volley like a pro you need to use your arms to give you balance, this allows you to generate power in your volley. 

19. Back Heel 

This is where you get fancy! A backheel can catch the opponents off guard. Sometimes you’ll be in a situation where your back is to the ball and heeling the ball is the quickest way to play. To heel the ball you need to swing your leg back and connect with the center of the ball.

To generate the most amount of power, connect with the ball when your leg is moving at its fastest point in the swing. For a pro back heel, heel the ball when it is bouncing – this is fun to do as you can generate a surprising amount of power. For a super pro move, heel the ball just off-center and you can actually curl the ball! 

two players tackling a soccer ball

How To Play Soccer: Tackling

20. Not Being Afraid

When you are just starting out in soccer, it can seem a bit rough! All is done under the rules and supervision of the referee, so be strong and stand strong. The best piece of advice is to have your feet firmly placed the ground with your legs apart a little and toes pointing outwards.

soccer player with foot on the ball holding off an opponent

You may have noticed that in soccer, there are tall players and short ones. People may think that taller players are the strongest, but being short has its advantages. A short player has a low center of gravity, which means they are more stable.

Wear shin pads, this is the place where you feel contact the most – the shin pads I use are ones that have ankle support attached. Some shin pads I think are too short. Be comfortable in your soccer gear and be brave. 

21. Poke

A poking tackle is the safest way to tackle but keep your position. With other tackles, you can lose balance, or let the opponent past if you don’t win the ball, but a poke keeps the player on the back foot. When you do a poke tackle, have a look at your opponent and see when they take their eyes off of the ball.

poke tackle two soccer players

You need to be patient and time it correctly. When the player takes a lookup to see teammates or the goal – now is your time to poke. When you do poke the ball, stretch out your leg and use your toes. For a perfect poke tackle, you will poke the ball to a teammate. If not, you can clear it a little or just enough to put your opponent off, so they have to take the ball backward. 

22. Shoulder

A shoulder tackle is allowed, but a barge is not. So you cannot just run into a player with your shoulder, you need to do it shoulder to shoulder. Some players are too strong to even think of doing this too, but it is possible if you catch them at the right moment. If their feet are set, keep your position and wait until they are relaxed in the upper body or mid-spring in a sprint. 

23. Standing

tackling and holding off two soccer players

The best way to do a standing tackle is to use the inside of your foot. Make sure you can connect with the ball cleanly. Be in a good position where you are between the opponent and the goal and keep your ankle and foot firm.

If you get a strong connection and you push through there is a chance the ball will be knocked out into open play, making it now a 50/50 ball. A standing tackle is also a poke tackle, but by using the side foot you have more chance of regaining possession. 

24. Slide

A few years ago it was easier to slide tackle without being in danger with the referee, but now if you miss time the tackle you can easily be shown a yellow or red card. When you do slide tackle, make sure that you don’t slide towards the player with your studs showing – this can cause an injury to the opponent and get you sent off. 

soccer player on the ground in a slide tackle

A slide tackle is best done using the laces of your cleats. This can be done when you are side by side a player or just behind them. If the opponent is to the left of you, you need to use your right foot and if they are to your right, use your right foot. When you are running, spring into the slide and sweep your leg towards the ball. Make good contact with the ball to clear it.

For a pro slide that not many players can do, hook your foot around the ball to keep possession and stand up with the ball at your feet while the opponent is on the ground.  Be careful if you are slide tackling on artificial turf, it can be painful and cause burns. It is best to do it when you are on a natural turf.

25. Block

One of the most important ways to tackle is with a block tackle. This tackle is used to block a pass or block a shot. Be on your toes ready for the opponent to strike the ball. Keep an eye on the angle the foot is, this will give you an idea of the direction that the ball will be heading.

The block tackle can be done standing on your feet but also as a slide tackle, in a last-ditch attempt to block by raising your leg if the shot is high.

Soccer player action on the stadium

How To Play Soccer: Dribbling

26. Toes

Use the toes to dribble forward by angling your foot towards the ground a little and pushing the ball forward a little in front of you. Just do it gently at first so that you don’t lose control of the ball.

When you do dribble with your toe, you have the option of going left and right, so it is a good way to face an opponent when attacking. Then when you do decide to go one way or the other, use your inside or outside of the foot to change direction.

27. Inside Foot

soccer player dribbling with outside of foot 2

The inside of the foot dribble is the easiest one to do. Open your foot out so that the inside of your foot is facing towards the ball. So your standing foot will be straight and the dribbling foot will be angled. Dribble with the inside foot if you are preparing to strike the ball in the same position – this is the best way to get your body in position.

28. Outside Foot

soccer player dribbling with outside of foot

When you dribble with the outside of the foot it is just where your little toe is. This type of dribbling is best for example when you are left-winger, using your left foot so that the ball is a little further away from your opponent. Use the outside of your foot to take the ball away from the defender. 

29. Dribble Like Messi

soccer player dribbling with toes

Messi is the best player on the planet at dribbling and the key to it is that he can go in all directions, this is what the defenders hate the most – not knowing where the attacker is going.

To be like Messi you need to master the three dribbling techniques above and be able to quickly tap the ball in the direction you want to go in. Although Messi is short, he has strong powerful legs that allow him to spring in any direction – his center of gravity is low as he bends his knees when dribbling.

young players practicins headers in soccer

How To Play Soccer: Heading

30. Head or Not

Soccer player juggling with head

If it hurts your head, it is best not to head the ball until you are older – some balls are very heavy and can really hurt! The modern are lighter than they used to be, making it easier to head without any pain. Sometimes the ball is coming to you from high, you can judge where the ball is going to land and get behind it and play with your feet.

31. Without It Hurting

The strongest part of your head is your forehead, so if you get a good connection in the right place it won’t hurt. Practice with a friend some headers – stand close to each other and gently loop the ball in the air.

Practicing will give you the confidence to head the ball without it hurting. A type of header that is unlikely to hurt is a flick, so when the ball comes in you just flick it with the top of your head – causing the ball to go in a slightly different direction. 

32. Not Being Afraid

heading a soccer ball in a volley

It is important to keep your eyes open when you head the ball so you know where you will connect with it. Use your neck muscles to generate power in the header and practice leaps to increase your jumping height. Develop the muscles in training so that you feel strong and confident – this will ensure you are not afraid to head the ball.

33. Header Types

Clearance: Connect with the ball at the top of your forehead where there is a slight angle. The angle on the top of your head will cause the ball to go up in the air – which is important for clearing the ball. 

Downward: Get your head above the ball and connect on the upper part of the ball – this will cause the ball to go downwards. You can use this as a pass or shoot. When you are shooting with a header, pull your neck back and push it forward when the ball reaches you – this will generate a lot of power. It is very hard for a goalkeeper to save a header that is aimed towards the ground.

juggling a soccer ball

How to Play Soccer: Juggling

34. Feet

controlling a soccer ball ina juggle

Juggling with your feet in soccer is also known as kick-ups. When you try to juggle, curl your toes towards the ball – this creates a better landing shape on your feet and makes it easier. First make sure to only kick the ball in the air to your waist, if the ball is too high it is harder to control.

This is a drill that players can do on their own, so practice at home. Set yourself targets and count the number of times you do it. Use both feet so that you have to balance between both feet.

35. Knees

Juggling a soccer ball on a knee

Juggling with your knees does come in useful some game games where there ball lands near your knee when you’re competing for a ball. When you juggle, bring your knee up so that the upper leg is horizontal – this will keep the keep straight when you knee it up. Move your knee up and down to get momentum and use your standing leg to twist or hop if needed.

36. Head

Soccer player juggling with head

Juggling with the head is the hardest of all – it’s easy when you kick it up to your head and head it back down. To use your head only, throw the ball up in the air and bob up and down with your eyes looking straight up. Keep your head as straight as you can, just enough so that you can see the ball. Use a light ball so that there is less chance of head pain and stop if you feel any pain. 

kicking a penalty in soccer with keeper diving

How To Play Soccer: Set Pieces

37. Throw-In

soccer player taking a throw in ball behind the head

To take a throw-in you can stand behind or on the line from the sideline. You must use both of your hands. The ball must be released when the ball is behind the head or over it. If the goes over the head and in front of the player when the ball is released, then a foul throw is awarded and the throw is given to the opponents.

soccer player releasing the ball in a throw in

Youth referees are not as strict as the pros if you release the ball past your head. You cannot throw the ball to yourself, another player need to touch it before you can, plus you cannot throw the ball at a player. Normally the fullbacks will take the throw-ins and if there is no player free to throw it to, throw it down the touchline towards a teammate.

To throw it as far as possible, take a run-up and release the ball when stop – moving the ball from behind the head on the last step and release when the ball is over the front of the top of your head. 

38. Goal Kick

scocer player with leg swung to strike the ball

Any player can take a goal kick. Sometimes a defender might have a better kick than the goalkeeper, so they may take the kick or the GK may be injured. A goal kick is given when the ball goes behind the goal, last touched by the attacking team.

The ball is placed inside the goal box/6-yard box and kicked out of the penalty area. The opponents must leave the penalty area when the goal kick is being taken. Some coaches like to play it out from the back, others like to get the ball forward.

Make sure the ball won’t be intercepted by an opponent when taking the kick. If you are kicking long, aim for a tall or strong player up the pitch or an area where your team has more players.

39. Free-Kick

profile of soccer player after striking the ball

When a foul is awarded by the referee, the referee will point to the place where the free-kick is to be taken from. The opponents must stand at least 10 yards away from the ball. Wait for the signal from the referee for the kick to be taken and whenever the ball is touched, it means the ball is back in play.

Have two players lined up to take the kick to the keeper and do not know where the ball is going. Try and get the ball over the wall or hit it with power to where you can see the goal.

40. Corner Kick

A defending team touches the ball out behind their goal, so the referee awards a corner kick. Again, the opponents are required to stand 10 yards away from the corner. Cross the ball into the box to give your teammates a chance to score.

Aim to cross the ball head height to the edge of the goal area. If the goalkeeper catches it, aim for the penalty spot next time. 

41. Penalty Kick

Penalty kicks are taken from the spot marked inside the penalty box. The distance from the goal varies for each age group. The pros take a penalty from 12 yards away. No players apart from the goalkeeper and taker are allowed in the penalty area until the ball has been kicked.

The goalkeeper must stay on the line until the ball is kicked. The GK is allowed to move along when the kick is being taken. The bottom corner is normally the best place to aim the ball. Don’t give the goalkeeper any clues to where the ball is going until it is kicked. Make sure you get it on target with power.

Follow-up from the kick in case of can rebounds. Showing the inside of your foot to one side of the goal and changing it at the last second can make the GK think it is going in the opposite corner. 

Read More…

Heading A Soccer Ball: 13 Pro Coach Tips

Heading a soccer ball from a cross e1576771098708

A frequently overlooked technique in the game of soccer, a header is a fundamental skill in the sport that many players find difficult. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this is that headers are not taught or coached very well.

How do you head a soccer ball?

The main types of headers that a player should try to master are: basic headers, defensive headers, attacking headers, diving headers. With each of these, there are fundamental steps and techniques that must be learned, such as;

  • Keep your eyes on the ball
  • Drive-through
  • Attacking the ball using your body
  • Connect with the ball using your forehead

Certain drills might incorporate heading, but it is not unusual for a player to go through their career without being taught how to attack, time and connect with headers effectively, from an offensive or defensive standpoint. 

In this article, we look at different heading techniques and scenarios, and we have outlined a number of useful drills to improve this area of your game. Particularly for beginners, heading the ball seems like a completely alien and unnatural technique to use.

The body’s instinctual reaction is more likely to cause you to duck out of the way of an aerial ball than to meet it with your head. However, once you reprogram yourself to embrace headers, it can become a strangely enjoyable action. It’s key to have a change of mindset whereby you are attacking the ball, rather than letting the ball hit you. 

Manchester United's Vidic jumping for header (Heading A Soccer Ball)
It’s important to attack the ball, whether you’re attacking or defending | Image courtesy of Paul – Flickr.

Heading a Soccer Ball Without it Hurting

Here are the basics techniques of any header:

  • Keep your eyes on the ball at all times
  • This helps ensure that you make a good connection, increases accuracy, and helps avoid an accidental head injury
  • It’s natural that the eyes may close at the point of contact
  • Keep your mouth shut to avoid clattering your teeth or biting your tongue

It can be difficult to keep your eyes on the ball for headers at first, so a good method to get used to this is to practice light contact headers. Gently throw the ball above your head, and header the ball, keeping your eyes on, until the moment of connection. Slowly build up power and distance

  • Plant your feet firmly
  • This gives the body balance and stability
  • Bend the knees, enabling the body to propel forward to meet the ball. Remember, the aim is to initiate contact, not just wait for contact
Ronaldo heading the ball toward goal (Heading A Soccer Ball)
Cristiano Ronaldo in one of the best offensive headers in the game, with perfect technique | Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Heading a Soccer Ball: 13 Steps

  1. Make solid contact with the ball
  2. As you are in your prepped stance, with your knees bent, prepare yourself to attack the ball
  3. Spring forward, using your legs to drive you upward, and your arms to move the upper body
  4. Use your arms to power through the ball. Imagine that you are pulling your head through a picture frame
  5. Use your neck muscles to keep your head stable and to generate power and accuracy
  6. Connect with the ball using the center of your forehead
  7. This is a hard, flat surface, and allows you to watch the ball until the moment of contact
  8. Direct the ball to a certain area by pointing the forehead where you want it to go
  9. Avoid heading the ball with the top of your head. This can be painful and cause an injury
  10. Connect with the header at the highest point of your jump
  11. You may or may not need to jump to execute the header
  12. If you do need to jump, try timing it so that you make contact with the ball at the highest point of your jump, giving you maximum control, stability, and power
  13. Use your arms and legs to generate a strong and powerful jump

Cristiano Ronaldo is a fan of a 2 footed jump as it gives him a very strong and powerful position in the air. However, the majority of players prefer a 1 footed jump. It’s a matter of preference

Here are some great tips for winning headers. 

Basic Heading Drill for Beginners

Throw and Header – with a partner;

  • Stand 5 feet from the thrower, in your header-ready stance.
  • The thrower lobs the ball gently toward you at head-height. 
  • Attack the ball and header the ball firmly back to your partner.
  • Accuracy is the aim here so ensure that your headers are consistently reaching your partner. 
  • Over time, lengthen the distance between you and your partner, and increase the height of the throws. Eventually, you should be jumping to make the header.
  • If you don’t have a partner, you can use a wall to throw and head the ball against.

Defensive Headers 

The skill of heading is useful to any player but it is essential to be a good defender. Headers should be the bread and butter of any defender. In general, defensive headers don’t need to be very accurate but must prevent immediate danger and clear the ball adequately enough that a goal threat is stemmed.

We often see a cross dealt with by a defender with an initial header, only for the attacking team to regain possession and score on the next play. It’s not enough to deal with the first attack, the header must also take the ball out of the danger zone. Defensive headers come in various forms: from corners, crosses, duels with attackers, and long balls.

Feast your eyes on some of the greatest headers ever. Pay attention to the various techniques used.

Defensive Heading Drills

This can work for attacking and defensive purposes.

To begin with, the defenders and attackers should be separated and they should use different goalposts. The defenders take up their positions in the penalty box. Quite simply, Someone crosses the ball into the box, and the defenders head the ball away. 

Practice different types of crosses, set-pieces, heights, and power of strike for variation. The kicker should aim at different spots in the box to give the defense different looks to deal with. In a team scenario, communication is essential.

Any player taking responsibility for the header should shout to let their teammates know that they are attacking the ball. This prevents two teammates competing for the same ball. For example, if Tom is going up for a header, he would shout, “Tom’s / Tom’s ball / Tom’s up” etc.

Sergio Ramos is one of the highest goal-scoring players from set-pieces. Check out this video breaking down his approach to attacking corners and free-kicks for ideas on how to lose your defender and attack crosses.

High Ball Header Drills

One of the most common in-game heading scenarios is competing for a high dropping ball. As there is a lot of momentum on the ball already, generating power for this type of header isn’t important. The key is judging the flight of the ball and timing. This drill is very straight forward.

Steps:

  • Kick or throw the ball high in the air
  • Judge the flight of the ball, rise up and head it
  • The header doesn’t need to be very accurate but you should be aiming in a general direction
Ramos jumping over a player for a header  (Heading A Soccer Ball)
Sergio Ramos beating his man to the ball | Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Attacking Headers 

Offensive headers are the most difficult types of headers. To score one, you must beat the defender to the ball, direct the ball goalwards, and beat the ‘keeper. This takes supreme timing, strength, and technique.

Dominant headers of the ball, from an attacking standpoint, can be extremely valuable to a team. Take Cristiano Ronaldo for example: not only is he gifted in terms of his physique, technical ability, speed, and shooting, he is phenomenal in the air and scores a lot of headers.

There are some useful drills for practicing offensive headers. All players can develop themselves to be brave and technically proficient at attacking headers. However, it has to be noted that natural size and athleticism plays a huge part.

Attacking Header Drills

This is the attacking part of the drill mentioned in the defensive headers section. As mentioned, to begin with, the defenders and attackers should be separated and use different goalposts. 

  • Attackers take their positions in the penalty box
  • The set-piece taker crosses the ball in from various positions, aiming at different parts of the box, and varying the type of cross
  • The attackers make runs and attack the ball, attempting to score headers. 
  • Use various heading techniques including flick-ons, power headers, and diving headers
  • Depending on how many players are available, different amounts can be involved in this drill. The ideal number would begin at 2 players attacking crosses, rising to 6 or 7

Once the defensive and offensive contingents have practiced this drill separately, they should come together for an attack vs defense exercise. The drill takes place as normal, however, defenders and attackers are competing to win each cross. 

It’s important to treat this as practice, not as a live game. Be aware of your movements and surroundings and try not to cause an injury. This type of drill can be very useful and enjoyable but it shouldn’t be overdone as there is a risk of injury.

6-yard Box Header Drill

This drill is very simple but great for practicing heading technique safely. It can also double up as a fantastic reaction drill for a goalkeeper. If there is no GK available, make sure to concentrate on pin-point accuracy. At least 2 players are needed for this drill but it works for much larger numbers. 

  • GK stands on their goal-line
  • A thrower stands on the end-line to the side of the goal with a ball in their hand
  • The attackers line up on the edge of the penalty box
  • 1 at a time, they make a run to the 6-yard box, where the thrower tosses a head height ball toward them. The attacker tries to score a header
  • The thrower can vary the height and pace of the throw but it’s important that it’s accurate and matches the run of the attacker
  • An extension to this drill would be to line out 3 to 4 cones that the attacker has to run through before running for the 6-yard box. This simulates a real game situation where the attacker is trying to get free of their defender
  • Keep track of the scoring numbers and try to improve these over time

Final Heading Tips

Practice your heading technique as outlined in this article. Concentrate on the basics and the fundamentals to improve form. Use the drills to put these techniques into practice. As with all new things, be patient and stay disciplined.

You are sure to see massive improvements over time. Being a good header of the ball can make you a much better all-round player, and it can be a huge asset to your team both defensively and offensively. Hopefully, this article can help you become a goal threat from set-pieces, or a dominant defensive anchor going forward. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

What advantage is heading the ball in soccer? Heading the ball is a specialized skill. If a tall, athletic, and powerful athlete is a good header of the ball, they have a huge advantage over any competing player. They may use this to their advantage from set-piece or crossing scenarios, where they are the target of all crosses. This can lead to easy goals, or it can be a distraction or worry to the opposition.

Who is the best player at scoring headers? Statistically, heading records have not been around long enough to give a conclusive answer. However, in the modern game, Cristiano Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the greatest. He has scored over 100 career headers. Just watch this!

What is a “perfect hat-trick”? This is where a player scores 3 goals in the following manner:

  • 1 x left-footed
  • 1 x right-footed
  • 1 header
Read More…